Could Baseball Save Us All?

A Day After Gunman Targets Republican Practice, Spirit Of Unity Displayed That’s All-Too Rare These Days

An annual charity baseball game between Republicans and Democrats went off last night without a hitch, raising about 1.5 million dollars for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, Washington Literacy Center, National Dreams Foundation and the Capitol Police Memorial Fund. The game took place just a day after a gunman shot at a group of Republicans practicing for it. If there’s a silver lining, it’s the amount of money raised was about double than normal, because of public donations pouring in. Some of those participating in the game looked to a second silver lining, perhaps: a carry-over of the bipartisan spirit seen in the last two days to Capitol Hill. We’re skeptical, but I guess we’ll see.

Democrats won the game 11-2.

Injured House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who was shot in the hip, had a second surgery, and is reported to be doing better although he’s still in critical condition.

Members of congress are now saying they want more security to protect them. One idea which actually seems pretty good to us, is loosening up Federal Election rules to allow congressmen to spend leftover campaign money on security. As we mentioned yesterday, most members of congress do not have security details. Two Capitol police officers were present at the practice only because Scalise is in a leadership position, and therefore qualifies for a security detail.

Pence Gets His Own Lawyer

The Washington Post reports Vice President Mike Pence has hired his own private attorney to handle matters related to the Russia investigation. He’s said to be Richard Cullen, former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. Cullen is perhaps best known for representing Tiger Wood’s ex-wife, Elin Nordegren, during her divorce.

According to the Post, Trump’s private attorney, Marc Kasowitz has been assuring White House staffers he’s got their backs. But now that Pence has brought on his own lawyer, there’s some concern it could snowball, and the White House could soon be flooded with private attorneys.

There is no indication Pence himself is under investigation, but he central to any investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Flynn’s misleading statements to the Vice-President about contacts with Russia was the reason given for his firing.

The Washington Post also reporting Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Jared Kushner’s business dealings. As we mentioned yesterday, Mueller’s put together a team with extensive expertise in investigating financial transactions, (not just who talked to whom on the phone.) We linked to this Wired article once already about Mueller’s “Dream Team”, but here it is again in case you haven’t gotten to it yet.

Did Russia Finish Off ISIS Founder?

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said this morning he has not yet confirmed if ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a Russian air strike more than 2 weeks ago. But according to the government affiliated news agency, Sputnik, Russia’s military said this morning it’s possible he came to his end when it targeted a meeting of ISIS military leaders in Raqqa, Syria on May 28.

U.S. military says it cannot confirm the report. And al-Baghdadi has been incorrectly reported killed a few times before (though never by Russia.)

Baghdadi seldom appears in public or makes public statements, so the fact that he hasn’t in a while, does not in and of itself provide any proof.

We will continue to monitor this for you.

Trump Returns To The “Tried-And-True” To Defend Himself Against Russia And Obstruction; We Answer Him

His argument, in a nutshell, blame everything on Hillary:

Here’s our answer: This isn’t a “You’re the Puppet” moment during a Presidential debate. You won. Period. So you own it.

We are not among those who say “not our President.” You are our President.  If Hillary was President, she would be getting investigated for oh-so-many things (which is part of the reason many people didn’t bother voting for her.) You can’t keep putting it back on her. We can’t imagine this even really plays that well with your base anymore, because it’s so tired. But we are willing to concede you know a lot more about that than we do.

And Trump Tweets this morning:

To which we say: Nope! We/they love it!

Trump Could Take Lessons On Leaking From Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

McConnell is coming under increasing criticism for developing the Senate’s version of a health care bill in near-complete secrecy, including from members of his own party. Republican Senator Bob Corker, as quoted by the New York Times: “The process is better if you do it in public, and that people get buy-in along the way and understand what’s going on. Obviously, that’s not the route that is being taken.”

Few details of the Senate’s plan have leaked, except that it might involve cutting Medicaid expansion at a slower pace than the House’s version. There are some indications the White House hasn’t even seen the bill. Which if McConnell wants to prevent leaks, is probably a good idea.

Vox’s terrific health care reporter Sarah Cliff says she has never seen such extreme secrecy as McConnell actually appears to be “hiding the bill.” This is a must-read for today.

We are not endorsing McConnell’s methods, but if the goal is to get the bill passed before Senators leave for the 4th of July holiday, he may be right in his calculation that this may be the only way.

Republican Senator To Trump: Stop Playing Chicken With Health Care Payments To Insurers

Lamar Alexander, who heads the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, wants the White House to keep up cost-sharing payments to insurers, so they will keep writing insurance in many markets. Right now, the White House is committing on a month-to-month basis, and insurers who need to decide now on what plans they’ll offer next year, are dropping out.

Earlier this week, the Republican head of the House Ways and Means Committee, Kevin Brady, proposed an even more radical idea: take it out of the President’s hands altogether by having congress pass a law to guarantee the payments.

New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone explains what he sees as Trump’s Obamacare strategy to The Atlantic, saying the White House wants to be able to “say, ‘Oh see, it’s not working,’ after they’ve made every effort to sabotage it.”

“The Chaos Report” Goes To The Theater

We attended a performance tonight of the Public Theater’s “Julius Caesar” in Central Park. Our first reflection is that it’s crystal clear that those on the right who are condemning the production clearly have not seen it. (Including the President’s namesake son, because it in no way “glorifies the assassination of our President” as he has asserted.)

Yes, it lampoons Trump. But it is hardly a celebratory Presidential kill-fest. Rather it cautions against abruptly disposing of a despotic leader by violence for any reason, and especially without a solid plan of what to do after. A lot of the play also has to do with the power that comes with possessing the proficiency to persuade the public.

As to “noise” surrounding the production of the Shakespeare play, both literal and figurative: a small note slipped inside the program stating the production is not funded by the NEA, an irritating but somewhat good-natured troll who unfurled a “Trump 2020” banner during the curtain call and started shouting things like “Barron Trump for President 2032!” (Our guess is Ivanka would be in between…?), and a sole protestor outside the theater with a big voice who filibustered most of the 2-hour show. Although it was difficult to hear much of what he was shouting, a lot of it seemed to be in defense of Putin, unless the word word “Putin” just carries through the night air better than “Trump.”

“The Chaos Report” Book Club

We’re going to recommend a book: “The Orphan Master’s Son” by Adam Johnson. It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2013. We don’t even like this novel that much because (spoiler alert!) the second half pretty much just mirrors the plot of Casablanca. While it is fiction, a lot of it is based on historical facts and contains harrowing descriptions of North Korean interrogation techniques. When you are done, why American college student Otto Warmbier ended up in a coma will still make no sense, but what might have happened to him will be crystal clear.

Just A Little Ol’ Random Fact To Leave You With…

Tomorrow, June 17th, is the 45th anniversary of the Watergate break-in.

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